Engineering Operative

Job Description:

Engineering operatives make, service and repair machinery and tools across different industries.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

In this job, you could:

  • build components and sub-assemblies into finished electrical or mechanical products
  • fit parts to machinery and equipment
  • service and repair machines and tools
  • operate machine tools like lathes, cutters, grinders and borers
  • set and operate computer-controlled machinery
  • apply finishes and coatings to products
  • make quality checks
  • use forklift trucks, hoists or trolleys to move raw materials and finished products around the workplace


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an Engineering Operative, you should aim for a good foundation in practical skills and a basic understanding of mathematics, science, and technology during your high school years. Here are the typical subjects and considerations for aspiring Engineering Operatives:

  1. Mathematics (Maths): While not as math-intensive as some engineering roles, having a basic understanding of mathematics is important for measurements, calculations, and solving practical problems.
  2. Science: A basic understanding of science, particularly physics, can be beneficial for understanding the principles behind machinery and mechanical systems.
  3. Design and Technology (D&T): D&T courses can provide practical skills and insights into engineering design, technical drawing, and manufacturing processes, which are relevant to engineering operations.
  4. Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Proficiency in using computers and digital tools can be beneficial for modern engineering practices, including reading technical manuals and using computerized systems.
  5. English: Good communication skills, including reading and writing, are important for understanding technical documents, safety guidelines, and collaborating with colleagues.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could take a college course to learn some of the skills needed for this job.

In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Certificate in Engineering Operations
  • Certificate in Engineering Technologies
  • Diploma in Engineering
  • Diploma in Mechanical Engineering


You could start by doing an engineering operative intermediate apprenticeship.

Direct Application

You can apply directly for jobs if you have engineering experience. This could be from mechanical servicing or maintenance, fitting, fabrication or electrical work.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 42-44 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends on shifts.

You could work in a factory, on a construction site or in a workshop. Your working environment may be dusty, hot and physically demanding. You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With further training, you could become an engineering craftsperson or technician in your particular industry. You could also specialise, for example in CNC machining, welding or heavy vehicle mechanics.